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Top Ten Trends for 2017 – On Food

Top Ten Trends for 2017 – On Food2017.01.09


The rules have been rewritten. Clean and clear label is the new global standard. The demand for total transparency increases marketing efforts incorporating the entire supply chain into a product's branding. The upstream part of the value chain is gaining more attention in product and brand positioning, as the overarching clean label positioning becomes more holistic. More products carrying claims referring to agricultural practices, while calls for transparency have led to strong regional marketing, through the use of origin flags and illustrations.


As plant milks, meat alternatives and vegan offerings have moved rapidly moved into mainstream, consumers are looking for innovative options to take the inherent benefits of plants into their daily lives. Even dairy companies are now leveraging the functional and technical benefits of plants in new product development. This is driving more variety and excitement into their category. Plants are finding applications in diverse categories, whether as a product base or flavor inclusions, or as a source of color or health.


Consumers' quest to balance taste and health is driving profound innovation in NPD. Sugar is under pressure, but it's still the key ingredient that delivers the sweetness and great taste that consumers are looking for. Industry is posed with a challenge of balancing the public demand to reduce added sugars, create indulgent experiences and at the same time present clean label products. Consumers are further balancing their calorie intake between consumption moments and product category choice. Alternative sweeteners are part of the solution to finding a sweet balance.


Move over Italian Lasagna…we want Melanzane Aubergine Al Forno. There has never been so much variety and spread in the choice of authentic cuisines around the world. The connected world has led consumers of all ages to become more knowledgeable of other cultures. This has created an opening for visually appealing products with high authenticity and detailed product information. There are regional differences in the acceptance of high authentic ethnic foods, however, with pride in local cuisine also enjoying a resurgence in marketing.


Consumers are increasingly personalizing their own nutrition intake, making food choices based around what they think will make them feel better. They are experimenting with free from products and specific diets like paleo and low FODMAP. Industry is providing consumers with the opportunity to further personalize towards their perceived dietary needs. At the same time, they continue increase their intake of foods and beverages with ingredients that they consider healthy, like protein and probiotics.


Consumers are willing to pay that little bit more for an indulgent product offering momentary escapism and premium quality. This is especially the case for a burgeoning middle class in developing markets. There is a return to the original basics of a brand to highlight origin through classic branding and packaging. Well-known brands are offering something else to their portfolio on the premium end of the scale. High quality products with an authentic and sophisticated look are being created by large scale companies.


Different moments require different foods. Do I need an on-the-go yogurt for a busy weekday morning or an extensive family spread for a relaxed Sunday morning brunch? Targeting specific moments is becoming a powerful weapon for marketers, especially in categories like snacking. There is a lot to learn from the sports nutrition space, where targeting the moment goes beyond marketing itself. These types of products are optimized to the moment before, during or after exercise; for maximum efficacy.


Kids have become influencers in a big way. While “pester power” was behind typically less healthy while shopping 10-15 years ago, kids are now often setting the family dinner agenda themselves. With even cooking programs existing that specifically target kids, today’s youngest generation is open to new things and influencing what their parents eat too. The days of neophobia are over and their role goes far beyond pester power.


The most innovative products are being observed at the crossroads of different categories. Boundaries are blurring as innovators continue to capitalize the potential of hybrid innovation and fusion. Completely new product groups and categories arise, to tempt the pallet of the adventurous consumer. At the same time, other trends are inspiring a rethink of retail positioning as a whole, where the rise of flexitarian diets has led the meat department to effectively evolve into the protein department.


Increasing consumer interest in previously exotic seeds like chia and quinoa has fueled the application of seeds in general. Seeds bring a natural source of flavor, texture and health, including a high protein content and consumers are looking to benefit. Lesser used seeds such as hemp are making NPD inroads, while chia itself is popping up in unexpected categories such as soft drinks. Innovators are planting the seeds for tomorrow’s next generation of winners.

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